Sweet dreams…

Are made of SLEEP! oh beloved sleep, when will you return to me?

I understand that sleep and babies don’t go together. I totally get that. When you sign up for parenting it’s bold and front and centre of that all-binding contract – ‘You will not get a goodnight’s sleep indefinitely’. All the same, 8 and a half months is a loooong time to not have had a full night’s sleep.

I am a champion sleeper. I was when I was a baby (so my parents tell me) and I have been as an adult. I could go to sleep with noise outside, music playing, the light on – whatever. Better yet I would sleep a good 8 or 9 hours solid, no bathroom trips or anything. Pregnancy killed that of course but the agony of sleep deprivation with a baby is something else.

I often joke that babies have such a sweet deal. How much would I give if everyone around me was spending all day long trying to get me to go to sleep? Well they would have a pretty easy time of it I tell you. The real frustration here is that Baby B and I actually have a common goal. He is tired and we both want him to go to sleep but…babies are kinda jerks like that. In fact, he is actually crying because he is tired and wants to go to sleep (Urgh so GTFTS already!).

Sleep is really the holy grail of parenting. It’s pretty much the first thing that anyone asks you when enquiring about how things are going with the baby. The implication being that if the baby is sleeping all is well and if not, then something is terribly wrong and you must be miserable (some elements of truth here). It’s a very difficult question to answer when your baby is not sleeping well as you open yourself up to a host of advice (oh yeah! because I hadn’t thought about putting him down sleepy but awake duh!) and not a little bit of judgement (‘You’re creating a rod for your back you know’ or ‘you’ll never get him out of your bed now’).

Baby B was a champion sleeper from about 3 months onwards. He would wake once or maybe twice in a night for a quick feed and could simply be popped back in his cot straight after with the whole waking process taking about 15 minutes total. Now things are not so simple. Who knows whether it’s teething, wonder weeks, travelling, portacots or whatever but solid sleep has left the building. I’m talking hourly wake-ups and that’s when I let him in the bed. It’s more like every ten minutes if I attempt to put him in that bloody portacot.

I have always gotten through the roughest of nights reminding myself that one day he will definitely sleep through the night. In fact a time will come when I will struggle to get him out of bed and up in the morning. I also don’t mind having him in the bed and look forward to him being old and big enough for me to actually snuggle with him safely when he sleeps in our bed. These thoughts are all comforting until it’s 3am and the words ‘controlled crying’ are flashing in my head in neon lights.

It makes me sad that mothers feel so exposed to judgement and self-doubt over so many things. I can’t exactly pinpoint why but I think that we all have this in common. It’s sad because it is very logical that so many challenges with a baby are completely beyond our control.

We expect babies to sleep through, but so many adults do not. Imagine if you woke up because you were too hot or wanted a drink but you weren’t allowed to because you were expected to ‘sleep through’?

I respect other’s choices with regard to sleep training but so far it’s not for us. Not only because I can’t bear for B to cry but because I don’t think it would work – not in a non upsetting way. He’s just not that kind of baby. He’s also going through an ‘I want mama’ phase. I treasure that attachment and it feels like exactly the wrong time to break that process.

So this like the many other challenges of motherhood is one more thing that I have to survive and struggle through with the mantra ‘this too shall pass’. I have to keep my head down to all of the unwanted advice and kindly meant concern and let it slide away. I have to stick to my convictions and know that I’m doing what’s right for my family and that it will all work out in the end…easier said than done.

Oh well I can only hope that this will be the night that things start to change for the better. Goodnight all and best of luck.

RM

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